Sixty-three per cent of global, socially conscious consumers are under age 40 consult social media when making purchase decisions and are most concerned about environmental, educational and hunger causes, according to a new study from Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Citizenship, which surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, shows that 46 per cent of global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. Nielsen defines these consumers as socially-conscious consumers.

Nic Covey, vice president of Nielsen Cares, Nielsen’s global corporate social responsibility program, said it’s clear that corporate social responsibility efforts resonate with a specific group of consumers.

“Marketers need to know who those consumers are in order to maximise the social and business return of their cause marketing efforts. This understanding allows brands to engage in social impact efforts that appeal to the right consumers with the right causes and through the right channels,” he said.

By geography, the study shows consumers in Asia-Pacific make up the most global, socially-conscious consumers of 55 per cent, followed by those in the Middle East and Africa (53 per cent) and Latin America (49 per cent) who are more willing to pay extra for products and services from socially responsible companies. This is compared to consumers in North America (35 per cent) and Europe (32 per cent).

Among 18 causes reviewed, Nielsen finds that socially-conscious respondents prioritise environmental sustainability (66 per cent), improvements to science, technology, engineering and math education (56 per cent) and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (53 per cent) for companies implementing programs.

“Knowing what causes are most important to the socially-conscious consumer may help brands prioritise their social investments,” said Covey. “The next step is to understand precisely what causes are important to a brand’s individual customers.”

According to Nielsen’s survey, when it comes to brands and advertising, global, socially-conscious consumers trust recommendations from people they know (95 per cent) and look for opinions and information posted by other consumers online (76 per cent). Socially-conscious consumers are more likely than other survey respondents to use social media to help make purchase decisions (59 per cent vs. 46 per cent of all respondents).